How-To Geek

What You Said: Your Favorite Windows Customization Tricks


Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite Windows customization tricks and now we’re back to highlight some of the tips, tricks, and tweaks you shared.

Your customization tips ranged from cosmetic to behind the scenes tweaks and offered a wide variety of ways to customize the Windows experience. Ted Lilley’s favorite must-have tweak involves Windows Explorer:

The most fundamental change I make to Windows 7 is to immediately add tabs to Explorer via the QTTabbar add-on. I also add the good old cut/copy/paste/delete/new folder buttons alongside the tabs by installing Classic Shell (I skip Classic Start).

Robin sets up virtual desktops:

I use VirtuaWin in order to get virtual desktops on Windows, and also install EasyBCD and iReboot in order to quickly reboot into my dual-boot Linux OS directly from the Windows taskbar.

Swelfy adjust the focus-sensitivity with a third party app:

Install KatMouse, so I can use scroll wheel on any window that the mouse is on without changing focus. Also allows you to scroll some panes that normally are not scrollable.

We use WizMouse to achieve the same end, and agree that mouse-over-scrolling is a really handy trick. RJ Sheppard likes to tweak his toolbar:

Everyone seems to tweak for cosmetics. The most useful tweak I found is to right-click the task bar > add new toolbar > browse to My Computer. This creates a toolbar on the taskbar …..that you click and open, but then hover cursor over the drives and folders. Navigate your system without clicking everything…very fast finding something.

Bill tidies up his desktop with a toolbar trick:

I like a clean desktop without icons. Right-click the desktop and choose View. Uncheck Show Desktop Icons. The apps that I use a lot have a shortcut on the task bar. Create a new folder on the Desktop and call it Apps. Open it and drag the icons of apps that you use less often to the Apps folder. Now uncheck Show Desktop Icons. Right click on the task bar. Click on Toolbars. Select New toolbar. Navigate to the new Apps folder. You will end up with Apps at the left side of the tray. Left click on it and you will see the items that you dragged into the Apps folder.

For more tips and tricks covering everything from security to third-party skins, hit up the full comment thread.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/6/12

Comments (10)

  1. Usman

    Rainmeter, anyone? :)

  2. Chris

    I do the following:
    1. Remove all desktop icons
    2. Install Rocketdock, place mostly used app shortcuts there.
    Thats all i need.

  3. sfw

    about the last one:
    Why dont just use the Quickstart?

  4. David

    Like others, I have my own tweaks, but I did not know about katmouse. This app is a great addition to my tweaks. Thanks for the article.

    @sfw The reason to use folders/toolbars on the taskbar is that they allow for grouping of items and programs for pure launch functionality. I have 4 toolbar/folders on my taskbar with different groupings of items. This allows me to easily right click the task bar and change which toolbar set I want depending upon what I am doing.

  5. Rob


    Have your complete-custom-shell-gasm

  6. Nathan J.

    Dexpot. The whole “multiple desktops” is the best desktop UI feature of Linux, IMO, and it’s had it for years, but Windows never has. Dexpot is free and adds the feature, with loads of customization options not present in the Linux flavor. By default it’s not even quite like the Linux version, but I make it work just like that, and give each desktop its own wallpaper. That wallpaper sets the tone for what I will be doing with that particular desktop.

    You could even use Dexpot to one-up the Windows 8 “Start Screen”. Make your first desktop have a cool “shelf” style wallpaper with all your icons, and widgets and such, and the second one be clean with a nice picture. Have all your apps on the second (and beyond) desktops, but click to the first one to launch apps or check widgets. And you get to keep your Start button, haha.

  7. Ron

    My first customization is really simple. I personalize the desktop background. In my admin ID I set the color to bright red. I use it as a constant reminder that this my admin ID and I shouldn’t be working in it on a day-to-day basis.

  8. Art€

    Thanks for a good article; lots of nice tips.

  9. Emir_X

    I used to turn off the explorer (window manager) from regedit and replace it with some custom cmd front-end like Console2.0 and when I turn on my computer, the only thing I would see would be just that console, no taskbar, just windows when called from console.

  10. John

    bug.n is the most amazing windows manager I know for Windows.

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